City Hall and the fable of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Guyana Chronicle
September 29, 1999

IN LEWIS Carroll's classic fable, `Alice In Wonderland' there is an unforgettable scene familiarly known as the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. At that event, Alice becomes exasperated by the peculiar responses of her host, the Mad Hatter and his friend, the March Hare. One cause of her exasperation was the fact that whenever the party moved up a few places, she would be the one still facing a used plate with scraps of cake. After a particularly sharp exchange with her companions, Alice staged a walk-out, pausing at the door only to observe the effect on her friends. To her dismay, the party did not seem to notice her departure at all. They were busy stuffing the sleepy Dormouse into the teapot!

These days the stories out of City Hall for a number of reasons remind some people of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, so absurd, so utterly exasperating have the antics and deliberations of the Council become. For instance, the recent lament about lack of finances to meet wages of City Hall workers and to pay contractors for collecting garbage, is playing simultaneously with a story that the Council has ordered some US$62,000 worth of uniforms, shoes, emblems and handcuffs from a Miami firm. A letter by the Council's Public Relations Officer in a daily paper yesterday explained that there had been complaints about "the delivery rate and the fit" of uniforms worn by members of the City Constabulary. The PRO also spoke of the "enhancement of our operation at our security installation" and "the morale of our work force and consequently the general performance".

In our pages today, we feature a news report which states, among other things, that 82 pairs of shoes, 200 skirts and some shoulder emblems were missing from the two consignments of goods sent by the Miami firm. To make matters worse, City Hall is experiencing some difficulty in locating executives of the firm whose telephones all seem to be down.

Two months ago, after the `Chronicle' raised the alarm over the Stabroek Market bell tower, which was in danger of collapsing, the Council ordered the market closed so that urgent rehabilitation works could be carried out. The front gates were closed and a section of the market structure ripped off. Several weeks later displaced stallholders are grumbling over the fact that very little work is going on and they are losing their livelihood. The most recent word out of the City Council was that it was seeking further sources of funding for the renovation of the Stabroek Market.

Never mind the state of the City with its clogged drains, choked alleyways and over-grown avenues. The mounds of garbage that mar the symmetry of Georgetown's beautifully laid out streets and canals have now become `accepted' components of the environment and there seems to be little hope among citizens that the capital could ever be restored to its former beauty and charm.

We are convinced that until the collective agenda of City Hall is redefined, and Councillors place the good of the Capital above narrow partisan interests, the business of the Georgetown will continue to be neglected. Instead of healthy and constructive discussions at Statutory Council meetings, there will be more of the exasperating cross-talk that is so reminiscent of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples